I can’t believe that today marks 33 years since the brutal and horrific murder of Maki Sikhosana.The year was 1985, the day was the 20th July. It was my 9th birthday and the President was P.W.Botha.

I was watching SABC news with my father, as he had made it a habit for us to watch the news or read the City Press together. On that day, one of the leading stories was that of a young Black woman, who was being violently kicked, punched and literally, physically brutalised.

Later, she was set a light, while a crowd was singing, shouting and watching her burn to death.This horrific story captivated me for a moment but eventually faded from my 9 year-old memory ( at least I thought so).

Then much later, when I was a bit older and perhaps more curious, I learned that this horrific scenes where from a funeral and the name of the woman was Maki Sikhosana from Duduza.

She was a COSAS activist who was falsely accused by her own comrades of being impimpi (a sell-out ) and causing the death of several COSAS activists, days earlier.

It was later established by the TRC that she was falsely accused and that Joe Mamasela ( the actual sell-out) and co, with the help of the security apparatus of the Botha regime-had carried out both the murders of these COSAS activists and engineered the false accusations against Maki.

During her testimony at the TRC, Maki’s sister, Evelina Moloko, had this to say about the circumstances around her sister’s murder:

There were certain rumours that they wanted to kill Maki…because she caused the death of certain youths who died due to being blown up by hand grenades. Now, those youths who were allegedly killed by hand grenades were three, and the whole three died next to my place… Now, when the hand grenades exploded we were all asleep and Maki was in the house also asleep … We were scared, we did not even look through the window because we thought whoever was shooting outside would also shoot at us if we peeped through the windows or we opened the doors. We ended up not knowing what had happened until the following morning at five…It seemed that it was common knowledge that Maki had a hand in the killing of those youths…I told (her) it was better for her to run away and she told me she was not going to run away because whatever they said she had done, she had not done, she was innocent…It was very hot and I made fire when I got home. Just when I was taking the ashes into the dustbin, three girls went past my place. They were shouting slogans and they were saying that they had burnt Maki…When you look at your sister’s body, you feel it in your own body. I approached her from the feet… but I could not see her face because there was a large rock on her face as well as her chest… I discovered that all her teeth were missing… She had a huge gap on her head, she was also injured and she was actually scorched by fire… Her legs were taken apart…Broken glass had been shoved into the young woman’s vagina.

Maki’s death was so brutal, no amount of words can aptly articulate the depth of the brutality that was unleashed on her body.

Even though she was an activist in her own right-she is one of the many Black women whose story doesn’t feature prominently (if it feature at all) in what is commonly referred to as the liberation struggle narrative.

This is largely because of the patriarchal nature of the liberation movement, but there is also another reason why her story doesn’t feature prominently.

If her death is to be properly investigated, it might implicate a number of people (some still alive), both from the side of the securocrats of the apartheid state and those leaders of the liberation movement, who were in decision-making positions on the former East Rand.

Forgetting, just like remembering is a process that usually happens naturally, but we also know that forgetting can also be deliberately engineered.

In a context that is defined by white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, neoliberalism and anti-Blackness- it favours the oppressors when the oppressed slavishly accept a situation wherein their oppressors seek to erase their memories or dictate to them what or how they must remember their own lived reality.

Just as there are consequences for being  remembered, there are also consequences for being forgotten. For to be forgotten is not just to cease to exist in memory, but also become a physical invisible (even when you’re physically present).

By refusing to remember Makie, we have not just added to the physical brutality that was visited on her Black body, but we have actually ensured that her name remains buried along her battered Black body-deep down in the belly of our troubled land.

Many of us have willingly become part of a nauseating conspiracy of silence that is meant to avoid offending the political mantshingilane class.The Black world must never forget our sister, Maki Sikhosana.